Saturday, March 07, 2009

The 162nd good thing about Lagos: Small World with a Big Party

Last year was my first time at the biggest expat charity event in Lagos -- Small World. We recently were able to attend the 2009 version of the event, with the theme: Small World, Big Party.

This event is hosted by the various women's organizations in Lagos and many women each year spend untold hours organizing the event. There are 3000 tickets sold, and each year, they sell out quickly and many people are left disappointed when they waited too long to buy their tickets.

Each participating organization hosts a booth with some food representing their country and also prepares an act for the program. By the entrance this year, there were boards set up with a costume from each country, with a hole cut out to make pictures fun.

The American Women's Club had chosen the Super Bowl for our country's big party to go along with the theme. So we had a football uniform for our costumed figure. Brent and I took a shift at the American women's club booth serving chili with Fritos (unavailable for purchase here, so they were brought into Lagos in suitcases by rotating workers), with homemade cookies and beer. Before and after our shift, we had time to visit other booths and sample much of the varying cuisine. There was lots more food than we had available stomach space, but we enjoyed a taste of a bunch of different things.

These figures were sitting in front of our booth. Our decorators did a good job!

There were 22 participating women's organizations, and at the beginning of the program, they announced that they had raised over 30 million naira, which would be divided between the charities. I'll be at the receiving ceremony to get the check for our charity, the Fistula clinic, in a couple of weeks, so I'll write more about our charity at that time. But they will be very pleased to receive over a million naira!

The women doing our dance number had practiced long hours and did a great job with a cute dance with female football players and cheerleaders.

The only disappointment I had in the evening was with a group of young adults in front of us. They were either Lebanese or Palestinian -- or I guess they could be both. They cheered equally boisterously for both the Lebanese and the Palestinian dance performances. But when the Israeli group was performing, they shouted out a constant and loud boo through the whole thing. I said something to them about how this was no place for booing, but I don't think they heard me. I was talking with another American about this after the event, and she said that she spoke to those booing around her very sharply about their behavior, telling them that this was a charity event and they should not be acting like that. After the Lebanese performance, I remarked to Brent about how there was no booing from the Israelis in the audience, but I don't think they heard me then either. But it did make me feel bad that these young people are failing to differentiate between governments and people. Those Israelis on stage likely had nothing to do with the policies of their country's government, or with actions that may have been taken by Israelis against Palestinians in the past or the present. They were just women with Israeli citizenship who had taken time to rehearse a dance to represent the culture of their home country. They did not deserve to be booed. It's a small world that will continue to have big problems until people everywhere remember everything the citizens of the world have in common, value everyone's need for peace and find solutions that will allow us to live in harmony.

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